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Daniel 2:13-15

13. And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain.

13. Et edictum exiit et sapientes interficiebantur; et quaerebant Daniel et socios ejus ad interficiendum.

14. Then Daniel answered with council and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon:

14. Et tunc Daniel sciscitatus est de consilio et edicto ab Arioch principe satellitum regis, qui exierat ad interficiendum sapientes Babylonis.

15. He answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.

15. Respondit et dixi t ipsi Arioch praefecto 124124     It is the same noun which was lately used. — Calvin. regis, Ad quid edic tum festinat ev conspectu regis? Tunc rem 125125     Or, discourse — Calvin. patefecit Arioeh ipsi Danieli.


It appears from these words that some of the wise men had been slain, for Daniel at first is not required for slaughter; but when the Magi and Chaldeans were promiscuously dragged out for punishment, Daniel and his companions were in the same danger. And this is clearly expressed thus — widen the edict had gone forth, that is, was published, according to the Latin phrase, and the wise mere were slain, then Daniel was also sought for; because the king would never suffer his decree to be despised after it had once been published; for if he had publicly commanded this to be done, and no execution had been added, would not this have been ridiculous? Hence, very probably, the slaughter of the Magi and Chaldeans was extensive. Although the king had no lawful reason for this conduct, yet they deserved their punishment; for, as we said yesterday, they deserved to be exterminated from the world, and the pest must be removed if it could possibly be accomplished. If Nebuchadnezzar had been like David, or Hezekiah, or Josiah, he might most justly have destroyed them all, and have purged the land from such defilements; but as he was only carried away by the fervor of his wrath, he was himself in fault. Meanwhile, God justly punishes the Chaldeans, and this admonition ought to profit the whole people. They were hardened in their error, and were doubtless rendered more excuseless by being blinded against such a judgment of God. Because Daniel was condemned to death, though he had not been called by the king, the injustice of the edicts of those kings who do not inquire into the causes of which they are judges, becomes more manifest.

Nebuchadnezzar had often heard of Daniel, and had been compelled to admire the dexterity of his genius, and the singular gift of his wisdom. How comes it, then, that he passed him by when he had need of his singular skill? Although the king anxiously inquires concerning the dream, yet we observe he does not act seriously; since it would doubtless have come into his mind, “Behold, thou hadst formerly beheld in the captives of Judah the incredible gift of celestial wisdom — -then, in the first place, send for them!” Here the king’s sloth is detected because he did not send for Daniel among the rest. We have stated this to be governed by the secret providence of God, who was unwilling that his servant should mix with those ministers of Satan, whose whole knowledge consisted in juggling and errors. We now see how the king had neglected the gift of God, and had stifled the light offered to him; but Daniel is next dragged to death. Therefore, I said, that tyrants are, for this reason, very unjust, and exercise a cruel violence because they will not undertake the labor and trouble of inquiry. Meanwhile we see that God wonderfully snatches his own people from the jaws of death, as it happened in Daniel’s case; for we may be surprised at Arioch sparing his life when he slew the others who were natives. How can we account for Daniel meeting with more humanity than the Chaldeans, though he was a foreigner and a captive? Because his life was in the hand and keeping of God, who restrained both the mind and the hand of the prefect from being immediately savage with him. But it is said — Daniel inquired concerning the counsel and the edict Some translate prudently and cunningly and עטא, gneta, signifies “prudence,” just as טעם, tegem, metaphorically is received for “intelligence” when it signifies taste. 126126     So translated in Auth. Verses, Exodus 16:31; Numbers 11:8; Job 6:6; and Jeremiah 48:11. But we shall afterwards find this latter word used for an edict, and because this sense appears to suit better, I therefore adopt it, as Daniel had inquired of the prefect the meaning of the edict and the king’s design. Arioch also is called the Prince of Satellites. Some translate it of executioners, and others of cooks, for טבח, tebech, signifies “to slay,” but the noun deduced from this means a cook. Thus Potiphar is called, to whom Joseph was sold. (Genesis 39:1.) It seems to me a. kind of absurdity to call him the prince of gaolers; and if we say the prefect of cooks, it is equally unsuitable to his office of being sent to slay the Chaldeans. I therefore prefer interpreting it more mildly, supposing him to be the prefect of the guards; for, as I have said, Potiphar is called רב טבחים, reb tebechi, and here the pronunciation only is changed. It follows:

Daniel also had said, Whither does the edict haste from before the king? It seems by these words, that Daniel obliquely blames the king’s anger and ingratitude, because he did not inquire with sufficient diligence before he rushed forward to that cruel punishment. Then he seems to mark his ingratitude, since he is now undeservedly doomed to death without being sent for, though the king might have known what was in him. As he refers to haste, I do not doubt his expostulating with the king, since he was neither called for nor listened to, and yet was to be slain with the rest, as if he were guilty of the same fault as the Chaldeans. The conclusion is, — there was no reason for such haste, since the king would probably find what he desired, if he inquired more diligently. It is afterwards added, Arioch explained the matter to Daniel. Whence it appears that Daniel was formerly ignorant of the whole matter; and hence we may conjecture the amount of the terror which seized upon the pious man. For he had known nothing about it, and was led to punishment suddenly and unexpectedly, as if he had been guilty. Hence, it was necessary for him to be divinely strengthened, that he might with composure seek the proper time from both the prefect and the king, for relating the dream and adding its interpretation. Daniel’s power of acting so composedly, arose from God’s singular gift, since terror would otherwise have seized on his mind; for we are aware that in sudden events, we become deprived of all plan, and lose our presence of mind. Since nothing of this kind was perceived in Daniel, it becomes clear that his mind was governed by God’s Spirit. It is afterwards added-

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